Monday, August 27, 2007

Junie B. Jones and the Bad Words

A few weeks ago, Sheryl and Kinsey went through Wendy's or Chik-Fil-A or some place and they were giving out audiobooks. The audiobook we received was Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed. Now, when I first listened the book, I thought it was kind of cute. On the 1,000th time though, not so much. Junie B. Jones is a girl in the class of afternoon kindergarten. Her teacher is named Mrs. She has another name, but Junie doesn't like to use it. Junie has a brother named Ollie that she thought was a monkey when he was first born, because of a misunderstanding with her Grandma Helen Miller.

Now, we are really trying to encourage Kinsey in her reading. We think she's a lot better reader than she's letting on, but we're continuing to do a lot of reading with her. She liked the Junie B. book so much that we decided to make a reward for good behavior a collection of Junie B. Jones books. The very first book was Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. Major problem there. "Stupid" is on our "do not use" list at home. A list which also includes "dumb," "hate," "ugly," and "shut up." The problem is that Junie B. uses these words all the time. Not only that, but Junie B. talks back to her parents quite often and is disrespectful to them on occasion.

Naturally, I don't have such rose-colored glasses on that I don't believe that Kinsey doesn't act like this. She does, but we really don't want to encourage that behavior in her. This is why I'm glad she watches Playhouse Disney and not some other channels where she might see that behavior demonstrated.

Sheryl and I had a choice when it came to reading the books with her each night. We could either read the words and actions that Junie B. did and use those as teaching moments or not. We actually chose the middle road. We didn't read the words. We either skipped them where we could or substituted. For instance, when Junie B. says that "I hate that big dumb Jim," I would read, "I really don't like that Jim." Where she would talk about a crybaby boy that she thinks she can beat up, I read that, but we talked about why that's not a proper way to act. I realized a bit later that Junie B. was written more for middle schoolers and her antics would be very funny to them. They were pretty funny to me and Sheryl too, but not while we have a little girl who could be influenced by them, and sometimes acts that way without their influence.

So we switched over to the Little House books set in the 1880s where children were never sarcastic or disobedient (joke). Of course, this has led to other questions like "Daddy, why do people hunt?" and "Do we eat meat?" Fun times.


Christy said...

Don't go giving Chick-fil-a a bad rap...they only put positive toys/cds in their meals. That's part of why I like them so much:) Not that you need my opinion, but it sounds like you guys handled that really well. Kinsey will encounter real life people with that attitude and she needs to know how to handle it. Most importantly she needs to know you don't approve.

Thomas+ said...

Junie B. is awesome. Our older girl started reading her in kindergarten, and has read every single one of the books. I started out with your feelings, Phil, and I was not so sure about this Junie B. kid. But, as we've gone through things, we've been able to talk about her thoughts and actions, and we've had great conversations about real feelings, anger, resentment, ethics, etc.

But, if you don't like Junie B., I would stop reading right now. Cause pretty soon your kid is going to be reading herself, and she will read what you've been reading to her.

Justin said...

I wasn't allowed to watch tv shows where the children were smarter than the adults in the show.

Which means, there were a lot of shows that I wasn't allowed to watch.

But I think it's good what you're doing, trying to shield her from that. They have trouble disinguishing comedy from reality, and when they see kids acting a certain way on television, they automatically assume that that's what normal is.

I remember like it was yesterday, after having watched some weird show with a family who had a robot daughter (that looked like a real human) I repeated a line I'd just heard to my mom who told me something I didn't appreciate.

I said "go suck an egg"

I immediately regretted that decision.

malia said...

I have mixed feelings about the Junie B. books as well. But JBelle has a few of them and she really enjoys them. We pretty much go the "use them as a teaching tool" route, too. I refuse to read "hate" when I reading aloud to her. I replace it with "don't like", "dislike", etc., but we talk about how we don't say "stupid" and "shut-up" and how we certainly don't behave the way Junie B. does!

john alan turner said...

We chose to tell our kids how much we hate that stupid Junie B. Jones and how we wish she'd just shut up.

Thomas+ said...

John Alan Turner cracks me up.

Anonymous said...

I found your bog b/c I heard a bad word on a soap opera and used "Bad words on TV" and your blog was one of the first ones to pop up. Like you, I really, really dislike Junie B. Jones. I refuse to let my kids read that series. Where did you learn that it was a series meant for middle school kids? I'm afraid that my 1st grader's teacher is going to read one of the Junie B. Jones' books to the class and I want my kid OUT of the class at that time. With so much GREAT children's literature out there, WHY point the kids to this?

Well, I'm dilly-dallying and I need to go find what I originally was looking for... a site about "bad words on TV." THANKS for the diversion!

Anonymous said...

OH,and one more thing: we teach our kids to say, "I don't prefer" instead of "hate" or even "don't like."

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